Palestinian Flag Raised at UN: Israel Responds

As the Palestinain flag rises at the United Nations (UN), Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas announced that the people of his nation would “no longer be bound” by the Oslo accords unless Palestine received “international protection” from Israeli aggression.

Standing to address the UN general assembly in New York, Abbas told representatives from almost 200 nations that the peace agreements, which have been in place for two decades, would not hold much longer if they continued to favour Israeli interests. While the Israeli delegation listened with inscrutable poker faces, Abbas went on to say that the UN needed to recognize Palestine as a state under occupation.

The president accused Israel of risking the current political clash exploding into a religious one over the Al-Aqsa Mosque; the recent focus of fresh conflicts in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already condemned the speech as “deceitful”, and is expected to deliver his own speech later in the assembly, blaming the Al-Aqsa clashes on Palestinian protesters.

Abbas’ uncharacteristically headstrong speech came on the same day that the flag of Palestine was raised at the UN for the first time in the organization’s history.

The US had voted against raising the Palestinian flag at the United Nations.

“(It) should not be construed as a change in a position on the part of the United States about Palestinian aspirations for statehood,” said White House Press Secretary John Earnest.

It remains unclear just how serious are Abbas’ threats over Israel’s breach of the Oslo Accords.

He demanded that Israel step up to its “responsibilities of an occupying power”, and said that Palestine would begin implementing their position through “all peaceful and legal means”. He added that Israel’s reluctance to honor these signed agreements is leaving the nation of Palestine “An authority without real powers”.

Some have put the aggressive undertones in Abbas’ speech down to an attempt to disguise his own political weakness. Any attempts of setting up a Palestinian state have been systematically disrupted, and the pressure on Abbas to step down and dissolve the Palestinian Authority continues to mount. Without a specific due date for these actions, the president has been using his grace period to draw the UN’s attention to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

While he delivered a message of immovable defiance at the general assembly, the hall and the world of international politics were alive with rumors that the 80-year-old was beginning to lose his taste for the powers of a president. The lack of peace talks or any kind of measurable progress with the Israeli lobby has punched more than a few holes in his prestige and mandate.

A recent poll released by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that around two-thirds of Palestinians want Abbas to resign, and that 57 percent had no faith in a peaceful two-state solution. Abbas’ position looks as if it’s speeding towards a political disaster, with the Palestinian people’s confidence in his Fatah movement swiftly dissolving.


[Reuters] [The Guardian] [The Jerusalem Post]